Friday, September 30, 2011

Happy Friday! *Drool*


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mustang Diaries: Cascade Horse Fair

Hey, check it out: If I am succesful with this new "link to" button I just tried out for the first time, you should get a link back to Mustang Diaries' post about the upcoming Cascade Horse Fair. I recommend checking it out---there's a picture of someone sitting comfortably on a cutting horse as it does its dance in front of a bull.

Mustang Diaries: Cascade Horse Fair

Now, you didn't hear it from me, but Tracey actually photoshopped that guy's head onto my body. That's actually ME sitting all relaxed and comfortable in that saddle.




Dang. Nobody believed me, did they? Oh well. If you did, I was going to try to find a picture of "Olympic gold medal jumper" and see if I could convince you that was me, too.

Someday I'll be able to ride a horse like that.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the DragonMonkey just ran past me, completely naked (two minutes ago he was completely clothed), opened the cabinet door where we keep the baggies to pick up Bad Max's poo, grabbed one, and then skittered out in the back yard, giggling.

This can't be good.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Mom Fanfiction

The lean young warrior stood poised fat mom leaned in exhaustion, muscles taut as she surveyed the path alertly lower back aching from pushing the heavy tandem stroller.

She slung the bow and arrow over her back, squaring her shoulders with a fierce determination. reminded her toddler for the millionth time to quit picking his nose - no, don't you dare wipe it on the baby! Gross!

It was time to embrace her destiny. She was born for this, for something bigger than the banal trivialities of every day life. She'd known this since she was young, and spent years training and preparing for this very moment. She was a leader, a warrior, and even if she were to lose her life in this struggle, she would fight passionately against the darkness until the very moment of death. do some laundry. Boy, she had a lot of laundry to do - there was just no way she could put it off for another day. She'd have to start on it as soon as they got home. Hmm. Should she do the whites first, or the towels? Decisions, decisions.

A fierce joy swept through her body, and with a shout she leapt forward, running lightly. She gave a heavy sigh, pressing her hands to the base of her spine, wincing. Man. Eight hours at a desk job was killer on the lower back. Ever faithful, the warrior's wolf raced quickly alongside her, alert for any danger that might threaten his mistress as they raced along the sunbeaten path. Great. The cocker spaniel was all wrapped up in his leash again. He stood there, confused and whining, ready to piddle all over the place if she approached him too suddenly.

In front of her, the toddler began to shift nervously--- why had they stopped? "Park? Park? PARK?! PARK?! PARK?! PARK?!" As if on cue, the infant picked up on his brother's whines and began a quiet whining of his own. She glanced at the two of them in exasperation. Couldn't she take two minutes to look at the sunset without both of them dissolving into a complete meltdown?

Hmmm. Maybe there's a reason nobody writes fanfiction about being a mom.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Clip Clop the Magical Trust Pony

Monday, September 19, 2011

Becky Bean: Chicken Owner Extraordinaire

Let me start this off by saying I like chickens.

Actually, that’s a bit bland. Let me rephrase:

I absolutely adore chickens.

I like the big ones, I like the small ones, I like the ones with fuzzy little legs. I like the way they eat insects, and the way they squabble when you throw food on the ground. I love their tiny little pea brains and how they forget about something 30 seconds after it just happened. I love their ineffectual flapping, their anxious little clucks, and I especially love the way they holler excitedly every time they lay an egg, as if it’s the first time it’s ever happened to them.

Ba-CLUCK! Ba-CLUCK! Holy crap, it’s an egg! Ba-CLUUUUUUUCK! Look, I made an egg! Look! It’s an EGG! Look, it’s an…. Oooh, what’s that over there? That looks interesting. Is it edible? Peck, peck. 

Chickens: They’re the goldfish of the bird world.

I can’t wait to get some property so I can finally own some chickens.

Of course, this won’t be the first time that I owned chickens.

Oh, no. I’ve owned chickens before. In fact, I owned them for at least four hours.

Yes, that’s right. For one brief, glorious, golden evening, I was a proud chicken owner.

It was during the time I was a wrangler up at the dude ranch. One of the owners called to say that she had some chickens she needed to rehome, and would any of the wranglers be interested?

Chickens? Free chickens?

“Oh, sure., no problem. We can give your chickens a home. Just bring them up, and we’ll find a place for them…. Sure, sounds good. See you tomorrow.” I tried to seem calm, cool, collected… but my voice cracked a little with restrained excitement.

CHICKENS! I WAS GOING TO OWN CHICKENS!!!!! I would feed them, and love them, and collect their eggs…. I would train them to accept hugs and kisses and love….. I would carry them around with me under my arm..... During the long summer evenings my chicken friends and I would hang out on my porch – I’d read my book and they’d wander around, pecking at my shoelaces and flapping up to stand on the balcony rail..... keeping me company with their nervous, drawn-out clucks.

Could I train them to stand on my shoulder, like a parrot? If I worked at it long enough, could I train them to ride on my saddle with me? Chickens! Flappy, loud, feathery friends who would poop out little edible presents for me, every morning! I could hardly wait!

I spent all evening and the next morning in a flurry of activity. I cleaned out an abandoned chicken coop on the side of my house, going so far as crawl inside and scrub the wooden walls with a brillo pad. My chicken friends would NOT live in dusty filth.

I patched holes, sealed cracks, and made it completely weather-tight.

I spread a thick layer of shavings and followed it up with an even thicker layer of straw.

Hours later, I was dusty, red-faced, sweaty and exhausted, but I was also proud. Before me stood an incredibly fancy chicken coop ---- nay, a chicken mansion. It looked warm, cozy, inviting. I could just picture them filing in a contented, loud little line each evening, clucking out their thanks and appreciation.

Inside, I spread a generous layer of chicken feed. Chickens don’t have very big brains, so I planned to appeal to their stomachs. In time my chicken friends would grow to love me for the wonderful person I was on the inside, but until their little chicken hearts warmed up to me, I could at least make them love me for the delicious food I provided.

The other wranglers watched me in amusement as I sweated around the chicken coop, trying to make everything just perfect.

“They’re just birds, Becky. Stupid, edible birds.”

“They’re NOT just birds. They’re chickens. They’re MY chickens.”

“She’s giving them to you, then? I thought she was giving them to the ranch.”

“They’re going to live on MY property, so they’ll be mine. I’ll be the one feeding them, so it’s me they’ll end up loving.”

“Loving?” The guys looked at each other, smirking.

“Yes, loving!” I snapped. Stupid men, trying to get in between me and my chicken friends. Pah. They thought they could come between us? Whatever. Me and my chicken friends – we had a bond much deeper than that. We were homies. We were tight.

The day seemed to linger forever, but finally, finally they arrived.

The truck came down the dusty road, and in the back of the truck I saw an oversized dog kennel strapped down.

“They’re here!” I scrambled under the fence, abandoning the wheelbarrow half-full of manure.  

Hold on, Chicken friends! I’m coming!

I danced around nervously as my two coworkers unloaded the dog kennel. We butted it up against the chicken coop, but the chickens were not going to cooperate. After a couple of hours in the back of a truck they were scared, sullen, and silent. We tried to wait and let them venture forth on their own, but the owner needed her kennel back. Finally, a decision was made to expedite the process. I winced, wringing my hands nervously as the guys grabbed the back end of the kennel tipped the chickens unceremoniously into the chicken coop. Instead of the peaceful, orderly line of chickens returning to their feathery home, I watched my chicken friends pour into their sanctuary an angry, flappy, noisy mess.

Onetwo…three…fourfivesixseveneight. Eight chickens – they were all there. Poor little guys.

I crouched down by the opening, poking my head into the door and talking softly. “It’s okay, guys. It’s okay. Shhhh. Just eat your food. Look! Yummy chicken food!” I picked up a bit of the food and tossed it at their feet, causing them to squawk and jump back in fright. They eyed me suspiciously in silence. First the car ride, then the unceremonious dumping, and now this stranger was randomly throwing crap at them for no reason?

“Becky, we need to feed.” The Head Wrangler was a calm, older man with a lot of experience under his belt. “Just leave the chickens alone. They need time to adjust.”

“Shouldn’t I lock them in there? I mean, with a cat, you lock them inside until they know it’s home. Shouldn’t it be the same for chickens?”

He rolled his eyes. “They’re chickens, Becky. They’ve got food in there. They aren’t going anywhere.”

“But I haven’t showed them where the water is – I mean, it’s in the back corner… what if they can’t find it?”

“They’ll find it.”

“But what if they leave?” I started wringing my hands nervously.

“It’s almost nighttime – the sun’s nearly down. They aren’t going anywhere. They’re not stupid – they know they either need to be inside or up in a roost by the time the sun’s down or they’ll get eaten. And once they sleep in there overnight, they’ll know it’s home.”


“They’re fine, Becky. Now load up in the truck – we need to go load the hay.”

Feeding seemed to take forever. It was past twilight and edging into the darkness of dusk when we finally finished. I hopped out of the truck before it had even rolled to a stop and trotted over to my chicken coop to peek on my new friends. I poked my head cautiously inside the hole and….



Not a chicken to be found.

“They’re gone!” Desperately, I tore around the yard, looking for them. Behind the bushes? Nope. Under the eaves? No. Waiting for me in a loving little flock up on my balcony? Negative.

I don’t know what drew my eye to the distant hillside, but even when I did look, it took a moment to see them.

There, trotting purposefully up the mountain front, in a peaceful, orderly, single-file line, were my chickens. They were so distant that they weren’t much more than tiny little spots of color on the otherwise drab mountain. They’d already made it past the horse pasture and the ranch boundary line and were marching resolutely into the Sequoia National Forest.

It was obvious they’d had enough. First the truck, then the dumping, then the tiny, dank little hole and the woman who threw things at them? Nuh-uh. They weren’t sticking around for this. That’s it – they were done. There was plenty of space out there for them to live in chicken freedom without having to worry about that sort of nonsense again.

One, two, three four…five, six, seven eight. Eight chickens. I counted them sadly.

And never saw them again.

I imagine they’re still out there, lean, rangy, half-wild and with lightning quick reflexes, like the chicken version of Lord of the Flies.

And don’t you DARE tell me otherwise.

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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Think He'd Buy It?

What if I told The Bean that she followed me home?

Hmm.  That might be a bit of a stretch, considering I live in California and she's situated over in West Virginia.

What if I told him that she had the ability to predict winning lottery tickets, and then when it didn't pan out I could just tell him that she lost the ability, like a little kid losing his baby teeth?

Or, hmmm...

What if I told The Bean that I pet her too much and her owners refused to take her back, saying she didn't "smell" right anymore?  I mean, birds do that, right?  Think he'd buy it?

Of course, I'd still have to come up with the money to buy her.  I'll worry about where I'll actually keep her later.

Maybe I could hold a bake sale?  Would anybody like to buy some brownies?    That should be enough to raise the money, right? Would anybody like to buy a $650.00 brownie? Maybe two?  Let me know ahead of time how many you want - I need to head over to the grocery store to pick up a couple of boxes. 


I mean, look how happy it'd make me.


Horselessness sucks.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oh, Well. I Tried.

Sometimes, as a parent, you get these really cool ideas about all the neat things you're going to do together with your child.

Unfortunately, soon after they're born children tend to develop their own personalities and opinions.

In other words, reality sets in and ruins your golden little dream.

Here's a good example:

Before the DragonMonkey was born I had the greatest little scenario I'd like to imagine.  There I'd be, leaning back on my couch, my tiny son curled up on my chest, cuddled all warm and soft against me.  I'd lean my head down and breathe in his baby scent, then lay my cheek against him, close my eyes, and smile....

See?  Isn't that a great daydream?

For weeks I tried to get The DragonMonkey to comply.  I'd tuck him against me, and hum to him, and pat his back, and swaddle, and unswaddle, and do everything possible to make him live out my little mommy-fantasy, but he wasn't having anything to do with it.  Fall asleep while being held?  Are you kidding?  There's entirely too much to look at it!  Kick, kick!  Wiggle, wiggle! 

One evening I came home from a late shift at my old bartender job only to be met at the door by a incredibly smug Bean.

"Guess who fell asleep on Dada's chest?"

"What?  How?  You're kidding, right?"


"I've been trying to get him to do that for weeks!  How'd you make him.. How...?"

"I guess he just wanted his Dada," he said, oozing superiority like some kind of palpable disease.

Sometimes I think it should be legal, moral, and totally acceptable to kick your husband in his shins.  I'm just sayin'.

Of course, I wasn't the only one with a dream..

Before the DragonMonkey's birth The Bean haughtily informed me that we weren't going to have a lot of those silly, plastic kids toys in our house.

"And no dumb baby books, either.  If he doesn't ever get any, he won't know what he's missing."

"So, what, he's just going to pick up reading by osmosis?"

"No, we'll get him good books.  Educational books."  He paused for a moment, dreamy-eyed.  "He can visit his dada at work once he's older, and he'll sit there by my desk, working on a math book all afternoon, because he won't know any different."

"Oh, reeeeeally?  And just how old is he, in this scenario?"

"I dunno.  Don't give me that look!  I don't mean taking him as a little baby.  I mean, I know he'll have to grow up a bit first.  Maybe two years old?"


Ha ha ha.


It's okay - you can laugh at The Bean with me.  He's used to it by now.

So where am I going with this?

Here is where I am going with this:

There I was, sitting there at the world's longest red light, and I thought to myself--- Wow.  I really want to sing me some Rick Astley.

And HEY, how cool would it be if I could teach the DragonMonkey to sing along with me?

Obviously, that would be really, really cool.

Man, I better drag out my phone and record this.  This is going to be epic.  We are so going to have a really cool, wonderful, remember-that-time-when-you-were-two-and-we-sang-Rick-Astley-together bonding moment right now.

I really don't know what I thought was going to happen.---did I really think he was just going to burst out into song with me and the two of us would be some kind of harmonious, uber-cool Rickrolling mother-son team? 

The kid can't even pronounce the word "bubbles".  He still calls his oatmeal "Nonope".  Seriously, what was I thinking?

Oh well.....  another dream dashed by reality.

Of course, I guess if it really was my dream I should probably have tried to learn the right lyrics.  It wasn't until I listened to it a second time that I realized I was singing "lay" instead of "let".  Apparently my Rick Astley carries me everywhere.


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Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001

I woke up with a start.

As far as I could tell, it was the middle of the night.  I sat there, still and quiet in the dark room, trying to get my bearings.  What woke me up?  It wasn't unusual for me to be jolted awake in the middle of the night. Since Grandpa died I had been having nightmares several times a week---- horrible, emotionally draining dreams that I did my best to forget as soon as I woke up.  During the final few weeks of his life Grandma and I had taken to sleeping in the same room.  We both had our reasons, but basically it boiled down to the fact that we needed each other.  Death isn't pretty, and knowing someone was in the house with you made it a lot easier.

I listened to her soft, rhythmic snores for a moment, glancing over at her.  No, no, everything looked normal there.

Why was I awake?  And why couldn't I shake that something is wrong feeling?

I strained my ears, but I couldn't hear anything out of the ordinary in the house.  Besides, between the German Shepherd in the yard and the cockatiel in the hall, somebody would be hard pressed to break into our house unnoticed.

I held my breath, listening.

Nothing. The house sounded peacefully normal.  I gave a shrug and rolled over in my bed, burying my head beneath my pillow as I sought sleep.

No such luck.  Instead of feeling sleepy, the anxious feeling grew worse, twisting my stomach.  Something wasn't right.  Something was really, really not right.

I sat up in bed quietly and glanced at the clock.  I don't remember exactly what time it was - somewhere between 2 and 3 in the morning.

Witching Hour.  I hated that term. Suppressing a shiver I lay back in bed, pulling the blankets up around my shoulder tightly.  I stared quietly at Grandma and tried to let her soft breathing lull me back to sleep, but it was no use.  I was too anxious--- no, not anxious - fearful?  Filled with foreboding?

I contemplated calling my mom and stepdad to pray with me.  I knew they wouldn't mind, but still, I felt a little silly.

Hi.  No, everything's fine.  No, I'm not hurt.  No, I don't need you to come get me.  Can you pray with me?  I'm nervous.  No, there's nothing wrong.  No, there's nothing going on in my life.  No, I didn't have a nightmare, and no, I am not upset about Grandpa.  I just feel like something's wrong. It's not an anxiety attack. No, it's not---

Yeah.  I probably should have called, but I just didn't feel like dealing with trying to explain my feeling.  Besides,  I was comfortable in my bed and didn't want to get out.  Of course, that didn't mean I couldn't pray on my own.  I buried my head beneath the pillow, closed my eyes, and prayed until I fell asleep. 

I slept late the next morning.  My morning class didn't begin until late morning, and after my little middle of the night wakeup session I wasn't feeling too perky.

I lay in bed, bonelessly, enjoying the morning, when I sensed the bedroom door opening.  Propping myself up on my elbow, I smiled at my Grandma.  "Good morning."

"We're at war."

"Wait.  What?"  Her words made no sense to me.

"Somebody bombed us this morning - we're at war."  She spoke to me gravely, and without a lot of fanfare.  This was the voice of experience, sad experience - a woman who had lived through The Great Depression, World War II, The Korean War, Vietnam, and countless other battles.

I stood up quickly, peppering her with questions as she lead me to the living room, and ultimately the television set.


The Twin Towers.

What happened?

Someone flew two planes into them.

Is everyone okay?

No, of course they're not.  The buildings collapsed.

Why didn't you wake me?

I didn't know it was going to happen.  I tuned in right after the confusion following the first plane, and then when everything else went down, I wasn't sure you wanted to see it.  

I sat there numbly beside her, staring at the images.  It seemed surreal - too much for my brain to handle. 

For once, even the news stations seemed subdued.  There was no point in trying for sensationalism - it was awful enough without any gimmicks.  The worst part was not knowing ---- how many?  How many died?  How many were still trapped? Why?  Was this the end of the attack, or just the beginning?

The uncertainty that had gripped me just hours before returned, settling in my stomach as I sat beside my grandmother, silently watching.  Mushroom clouds of ash, grey, numb faces.....  I closed my eyes as they showed the footage of the jumpers.

The jumpers.

I could handle the rest, but the sight of the twisting, falling bodies, choosing flight over fire.....

One rabid young reporter - cloaked in the same colorless uniform as dust as everyone else - stationed himself at the foot of one of the towers.

"This is Generic News Station One, reporting live from the base of what used to be the south tower.  Behind me you can see the decimation, the.." he trailed off, looking over his shoulder as two firefighters stumbled  from the wreckage.   "Here! Here we have two heroic firefighters, just emerging from what appears to be a dangerous trip in the unstable wreckage, risking life and limb in an attempt to pull people to safety.  Tell us - what is it like down there?"

The older firefighter stared at the reporter, then simply left.

The reporter didn't miss a beat, simply shifting his microphone to the second, colorless, grey-cloaked firefighter.

There was a pause, then:

"You don't want to know."

The young firefighter shook his head, sending up a cloud of dust, voice distant.  Emotionless.  Haunted.

The reporter pressed on.  "Our viewers back home are praying for you and your fellow emergency service personnel.... they are watching, desperate to know.... what is it like down there?  Is it chaotic?  Are they evacuating, or going back in?  Were you able to rescue anyone?  How did you escape?  Tell us - what is it like?"

Leave him alone, I thought, hating the reporter, his questions, and all news media.  Savages.  Wolves.  Crows, pecking at the eyes of a fawn.  I hated that reporter, yet I held my breath, waiting for the answer.

The fireman ignored the camera, which was inching closer, zooming tightly on his grey face and bleak, bleak, seen-too-much eyes.

He stared at the reporter in silence - an uncomfortably long silence, made doubly so by the fact that it was a national news station.

"You.  Don't.  Want.  To. Know."  He brushed past the reporter, leaving him shaken.  The reporter stared after him for a quiet moment, before regrouping and facing the camera again.

The way he said it - the look in that firefighter's eyes - it said more to me than any images I've seen.  It still haunts me. 

I remember struggling with the decision about whether or not I should go to class.  I'd had a busy day planned that day - school in the morning, followed by driving out to help Thom Cain with his horses.  A late lunch with my grandma, and homework.

But now there was----this.  Death.  Uncertainty.  Fear. Horror.  How was I supposed to go to class when something like this was going on?

Slowly, the fear and sorrow began to evolve.  The longer I thought about the more I realized that something about the whole thing made me mad. 

And not a little bit mad.

A LOT mad.

How dare they?  What a waste.  What an absolute, disgusting waste of human life...and for what?  War is bad enough, but this?  What was I  supposed to learn from this?  I mean, they must have an agenda, right?  Who they heck were "they" anyways?  How was this supposed to make me aware of their cause?  Was it supposed to make me feel like they had something worth listening to?

It pissed me off.

Screw them.  Screw them and their planes.  I wasn't going to spend the rest of the day hiding in my house, glued to the news media.  Unlike the people in those towers, and on those airplanes, I still had my life, and I intended to keep living it.

And I damned well didn't intend to live it in fear.  

So I went to school.

And I drove over to Thom's house.  And I saddled up one of his stallions and rode it, despite the fact that I'd never ridden a stallion before.

I convinced my Grandma to go with me to Bakersfield for lunch.  I had no appetite, but I ate anyways.  My lips were thin with anger, my chin was jutting stubbornly, my stomach was nervously complaining, but I ate that damn lunch.

We listened to the radio the entire way and the entire drive back.

We didn't exactly laugh and have a good time.

But we went. I was bound and determined to fill that day with memories other than carnage, and horror, and sadness.

And you know what?

The stallion was sweet, and the ride was thrilling. 

The lunch was delicious.

My classes were informative.

Maybe I don't remember all the details of each event, but I did something other than mourn on 9/11.  I lived my life, in honor of those who had no life left to live, and in silent protest against the day.

I was twenty years old on 9/11. 

It's been ten years.

Grandma's dead now.  I sold my old Ford Ranger.  I am no longer living in the valley. I have a husband.  Two beautiful boys.  A career.  A savings account.

Life did go on, one tiny step at a time. 

But you know what?  If I close my eyes, I'm right back there on that faded white couch, worn leather creaking as Grandma and I lean forward, staring quietly at the outdated television 

It's the first time we've had a terrorist attack on our own soil, Becky.  You watch.  This will change things.  Before, this sort of stuff has always been somewhere else.  Now it's here.  They hit us at home.  We can't go back.  This is going to change this land.

 I nod, averting my eyes too late as they show another clip of one of the jumpers. 

The jumpers.

I wish I hadn't gone back to sleep.  I wish I had stayed up in those pre-dawn hours, and prayed.  No, it probably wouldn't have changed anything, but still.

I wish I had stayed awake and prayed. 

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Lazy Summer Evenings

As nice as it is sitting around the house, teaching the boys about etiquette and the finer things in life,

I'm trying to take advantage of summer.

For all I complain about living in SoCal, sometimes there are perks.

The beach is quite nice.

After work I'll toss the boys in the car and drive down to the pier. Traipsing about in the sand while the sun lingers in the golden sky is a very nice way to end a busy, stressful day.

DragonMonkey and the Squid seem to have a good time.

It's nice to see them bonding as brothers.

Some nights the thought of dealing with sand and the inevitable meltdowns is too much.

I'll plop The Squid in one of the many carriers I have around,

slap a leash on Max, and off we'll go.

It's hard for me to be depressed about my life if I'm outside. Besides, both the DragonMonkey and Bad Max seem to enjoy our new evening rituals.

Last weekend I dragged The Bean with me out on a walk.

"Come on, you'll enjoy yourself. It's beautiful outside! Sun, breeze, fresh air...."

I grabbed his hand, and pulled him to his feet.

"You won't regret it."

The four of us set off to walk along the riverbed trail.

It was really nice.

BadMax and the DragonMonkey forged ahead. The DragonMonkey's extremely proud of the fact that he is walking HIS dog, and he makes sure everyone we pass knows it.

"Walk MAX. I walk Max. WALK MAX. Yoook. Yook at me. WALK MAX," he hollers.

The sound of the sand crunching beneath my sneakers was soothing, and The Bean and I walked along in companionable silence, shoulders bumping.

The afternoon breeze was light, but the day was warm enough that it felt good against my skin. I closed my eyes slightly and tilted my face up to the sun, smiling slightly.

Something fluttered against my hand, brushing down lightly.

Landing? Did something just land on my hand?

Umm... did I have a bug on my hand?

I pride myself on not being a squealy girly-girl about bugs, but still... did something seriously just land on my hand?!

With The Squid strapped to the front of me I couldn't just glance down, so I did the next best thing: I shook my hand, blindly trying to flick it off.

Something large clung tightly to my finger... AND BIT ME.

It's amazing how quickly someone who prides herself on not being a squealy girly-girl about bugs can throw her pride out the window.

"EEEEE! EEEE!" I flapped my hand frantically, accidentally smacking The Squidgelet in the process, prompting him to howl. "Eeee! Get it off! Getitoff! Getitoff!"

I shied into the Bean, hard, throwing him off balance. I could still feel it, whatever it was, heavy and flappy, clinging tight to my hand. I flapped it against my thigh, trying to squish it, but it clung stubbornly and bit again.


With one last flick I felt it come loose and out of the corner of my eye I saw it falling towards my pants leg. I bounced to the side with another squeal...

And watched as a large butterfly fluttered brokenly to the ground.

I stared at it in confusion for a moment.

"It's a just a BUTTERFLY. It's a MONARCH BUTTERFLY." I looked up to see who spoke and saw a pack of bicyclists riding past me, all glaring at me with similar looks of disdain and accusation. Stupid sissy girl. Butterfly killer.

I blushed, and busied myself trying to soothe The Squidgelet. I didn't look up until the sound of their bicycles and their feel of their judgy, judgy eyes were far in the distance.

"It bit me," I explained to The Bean.

"Butterflies bite?" He raised his eyebrows.

"WHATEVER. I know what I felt."

Ahead of us, the DragonMonkey and Max were stopped, watching us. "Bug? Mama kill bug?" The DragonMonkey watched me, eyes wide. Learning.

Yes, that's right, my son. In this family we destroy butterflies. We also eat spotted owl soup and warm ourselves at night with our baby seal blankets.

"No, DragonMonkey. It was a mistake. Forget about it." Right. As if. "Let's just keep walking."

"Butterflies bite?" The Bean asked again, smirking.

"Shut up."


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

I came, I saw, I rode... and Conquered

Labor Day weekend.

It was our last real weekend together as a family until Thanksgiving. The Bean is taking 18 units this semester in addition with his normal full-time job. I expect I'll catch glimpses of him between now and then, but that's about it.

He graduates in May and we both agree it just can't happen soon enough.

Since there is only one real way to celebrate a three day weekend, there was little doubt where we'd go:



Am I sounding like a broken record yet?

The DragonMonkey shows every sign of becoming a full-fledged member of the horseaii society. (Mugwump, did you come up with that phrase or did you hear it somewhere else?)

He didn't sleep at all during the nearly three hour drive up to Bakersfield.

"Howse? Horwse? Wide Horwse? Wide Horwse? Pet Horwse? Niiiice, howrsie. Niiiice. Ride? Ride Horwse?"

It was cute at first, but after three hours I was almost wishing horses didn't exist.

We saw Cotton's new filly, who at three months old is growing up to be quite the little looker.

I finally got a chance to ride Willy, Ms. Pal's three year old son. I took a couple of hurried pictures, which I promptly forgot up on a camera chip in Bakersfield. The pictures are hurried, because I WAS hurried. There was a horse. And he was about to have a saddle on his back. And my butt was going to be in that saddle.

Who can be bothered with photography in a moment like that?

Willie is, sadly, quite handsome. I say sadly because I'd like to own him, but he's out of my league. He's 15.2 and will probably end up 15.3, huge (and not finished filling out yet), beautiful head, kind eye, intelligent, beyond sweet, great feet, and packaged nicely with a stunningly flashy deeply silver red roan coat. He's the kind of horse that markets easily, goes for good money, and then sells for even more money when he's a little older, if someone doesn't keep him for liffe. DARN.

The ride was great - Willie was fresh - quite fresh, actually. I surprised myself by swallowing the butterflies and actually enjoying myself. Immensely.

I got up on an extremely fresh three year old I've never ridden before and took him out on trail. We set off in a long trot and worked on headset while Bunnygal rode the unflappable Rocky (her stallion) alongside us.

I feel like I crossed some sort of milestone in my riding. Two or three years ago I would have been miserably nervous, which would have fed Willie's energy. I would have battled him into a jiggy walk and be scared I would lose control the entire time. Instead, I got on, raised my eyebrows as I felt the loaded bomb of a horse beneath me, and took off at a trot to get rid of some excess nerves. Willie settled right down, and we both had a blast.

The next day we went out to visit MaryJane, who is currently in training. Remember MaryJane, Rocky's first foal?

Well, she's not a gawky yearling anymore. It's amazing to me how much she's filled out in a year.

She's in training with a local cutting trainer who says she's doing well. Very well.

She still has her fancy buckskin roan coloring.

And she's still sweet.

Really, really, really sweet.

I think the DragonMonkey and I both fell a little bit in love.

I had to separate the two of them when she started licking his head and making his hair stand up on end.

I also got a chance to hang out with some cows. I like cows. Yeah, they're not the brightest animal on the planet, but I like the way they look at me as if I'm the most fascinating creature to walk the face of the earth.

Whenever I see this:

THIS is really what I see:

(if you have crappy eyes like me, click on the photo to read their thought bubbles)

See? The sky's even brighter and the field is even yellower when cows are around.
(It has nothing to do with me learning how to use a photo editing service, either.)

Of course, the horse the DragonMonkey and I both really fell in love with on this trip was Ms. Pal.

I mean, how can you not? She's just so stinking sweet.

Sweet, sweet, sweet. I wish I were better with a camera so I could show how she'd lower her head and close her eyes and just melt into the clumsy little pets that the DragonMonkey kept bestowing on her.

She's just a total sweetheart.

Ms. Pal's always kind of taken a backseat in Bunnygal's herd. After being greenbroke (and poorly at that) as a two year old, she took a hiatus as a pasture ornament and broodmare. She throws her great conformation to every foal, and most importantly, she gives them her incredibly sweet, willing attitude as well. I always enjoyed visiting with her, but there were always flashier horses who captured my eye and attention. Recently, Bunnygal started riding her again. She probably has about twenty or maybe thirty rides on Ms. Pal over the past couple of months.

When we first arrived at Bunnygal's place I immediately noticed that Ms. Pal was standing tied at the rail with a saddle on her back.

Normally I don't like getting up on anything less than a well-trained horse. I don't have any real lessons under my belt aside from the helpful critique's Bunnygal's been giving me over the years. Not only does it make me nervous to be up on a greenbroke horse, but it really emphasizes how little I know. I hate that feeling of getting up on a horse and feeling it deaden up and go numb beneath me because I'm not being precise with what I ask.

On the other hand, I've been hanging around Ms. Pal for years now, and I was dying to try her out.

I hopped on, and WOW. I'm beginning to realize it may not be the horse, so much as the way Bunnygal trains, but WOW. What a "click". Even though she probably knew less than any horse I've really ridden it didn't seem to matter. She was light and responsive, steady, and approached everything I asked of her with her customary sweet, willing attitude.

When we trotted I had one of those moments where I felt my center of balance sink deep in the saddle and it felt like nothing could make me fall off.

I love those moments.

Afterwards, we gave her a bath and let The DragonMonkey walk her around until she dried off. Considering it was 100+ degrees and the middle of the day, that didn't take long.

I will be really sad the day he outgrows the "menial tasks are fun!" phase.

I also learned that roundpens are good for more than working horses.

I want a roundpen in my backyard now.

I can't really figure out how to end this blogpost, since it wasn't really anything more than me sharing some photos and blabbering on about how much I like horses. I know, I know, it's not exactly thrilling stuff. I promise that it's only a matter of time before I spastically embarrass myself at my work office or say something idiotic in public. When I do, I'll be sure to share it with all of you. Maybe I'll even find some old Jr. High photos of myself and we can have a "geek-off" and see who was the nerdiest.

I bet I'll win.

Meanwhile, I am going to shamelessly plagiarize from Haiku Farms , and since I live down in Southern California and she lives up in in the Northwest (and is therefore too far away to retaliate by throwing something at me) there's nothing she can do about it, either:

Life. Is. Good. ©


Monday, September 5, 2011

Reasons I Really Don't Like Horses

I have to be honest - horses aren't perfect.

I know, I know, I go on and on in this blog about how much I am jonesing like a crack addict miss them slightly and would very much like to have them in my life again.

The thing is, I think I've been painting a rather lopsided picture of owning a horse. Since I don't want anybody out there to get an inaccurate picture of what owning a horse is all about, I have come up with a comprehensive list of why horses sometimes suck.

Brace yourself - this won't make for easy reading.

  1. Alfalfa down your bra on a sweaty day

  2. Digging out "the pee spot"

  3. The way your boots never smell the same after digging out "the pee spot"

  4. Mucking out stalls after a rain and how an inch of water from the sky translates into manure that has the same basic weight and density as Osmium

  5. The cost

  6. Poky boogers created by dust and alfalfa that stab the inside of your nostrils

  7. The way horses ONLY sneeze on your clean shirt when you are sneaking by for a quick scratch before going to work

  8. The way they always pass gas whenever you clean their back hooves

  9. updated after Lyatha reminded me I forgot one of the worst parts: The way they'll take a big drink of water or a big bite of wet food riiiiiight before lovingly resting their chin on your shoulder... and dribbling it down the neck of your shirt.

That's about all I can think of. I'm sorry I had to do that - I know it was tough to read, but I did think it was time for a little honesty on this blog.

Sometimes horses are just awful.... just so, so awful.